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Texas Highways Events Calendar

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Up Front

Your Texas Highways

What do Texas Highways readers think are the state’s coolest small towns? The answer to that question and other reader favorites will be revealed in the upcoming September special issue. Reader feedback has always shaped the pages of TH, and that will certainly hold true with our redesign, which premieres that month. It’s not too late: Tell us your favorite town (and why) by June 15. And let us know what you’d like to see more (or less) of in your TH anytime.

 In Touch with TH

Send suggestions and recommendations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Box 141009, Austin, TX 78714-1009. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, too!


Trip Tip:

Inside Houston

To contrast with the numerous outdoor activities featured this month, TH Art Director Jane Wu puts the spotlight on venturing inside Houston’s Museum District. The area includes 19 museums, with collections and interests ranging from The John C. Freeman Weather Museum to the Museum of Fine Arts, all within a 1.5-mile radius, a rarity in this sprawling city. Jane, a Houston native, admits “I haven’t been to most of the smaller ones, but hope to explore a few this summer, like the Center for Contemporary Craft.” Jane also suggests checking out the Museum District website for free admission days. Some, such as The Menil Collection, are always free.

 Sneak Peek:

Even More Summer Fun...

Next month, we’ll explore historic Clifton and the bounty of surrounding Bosque County, take a walking tour of downtown San Antonio, and escape to FoxFire Cabins on the Sabinal River. Plus, three locals put their spin on Austin. Summer’s in full swing! 

Bastrop State Park's resiliency underscores the spirit of True, Texas. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

The return of plant life to Bastrop State Park underscores the resilience that is characteristic of this year’s True, Texas, “community of the imagination.”

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Texas TraveLog is a free Texas travel industry newsletter, published monthly by the Texas Department of Transportation’s Travel Information Division. It is distributed to travel writers, media, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce and others.

To receive Texas TraveLog, please complete this registration form.

If you have Texas travel industry news items of interest, please send them to Texas TraveLog at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., P.O. Box 141009, Austin, TX 78714-1009. (512) 486-5874 or fax (512) 486-5879.  The deadline for each newsletter is the 11th of the month preceding the issue date.

President Lydon B. Johnson in 1965.

Few Texans have left a greater mark on the history of the United States than Lyndon Baines Johnson. (photographed above in 1965 at the "Texas White House.") Serving as the nation’s 36th president, from November 22, 1963, to January 20, 1969, Johnson guided the country through a tumultuous era of social unrest and cultural change.

Illustration by Michael Witte

We teach our children to share our world by involving them in our interests. For this columnist that meant making travel a keystone in her son’s life.

In the September 2013 issue, writer Michelle Burgess delves into the history and restoration of the beautiful Comal County Courthouse in New Braunfels, a German-flavored town between Austin and San Antonio. You can visit the New Braunfels Chamber's website to gather dozens of ideas for things to do during your visit, but here are some of our favorites:

This refreshing and elegant cocktail is perfect for patio parties. The house-made passion fruit- coconut drinking vinegar (known in bartending circles as a “shrub”) is part of a family of old-fashioned ingredients that have come back in style with today’s craft cocktail movement.

July’s “Up Front” mentioned a few of the Fourth celebrations taking place across the state. Texas Highways Events Calendar editor Erin Inks provides a roundup of the rest!

3—BRECKENRIDGE: Boomfest Fireworks and Music at the Rocks Hubbard Creek Lake. 254/559-2301 Panhandle Plains

3—FARMERS BRANCH: Independence Day Celebration Enjoy children's activities, food, a concert and fireworks. Farmers Branch Historical Park. 972/919-2620 Prairies and Lakes

3—IRVING: Independence Day Fireworks Celebrate the holiday with food, fireworks and family. Irving Convention Center. 972/252-7476 Prairies and Lakes

3—JOSHUA: Fourth of July Celebration Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for a concert and fireworks. Joshua Owl Stadium, 822 Stadium Drive. 817/558-2821 Prairies and Lakes

3—MANSFIELD: Rockin' Fourth of July Celebrate Independence Day with a carnival, games, smash car, children's activities and fireworks. Big League Dream Sports Park. 817/804-5785 Prairies and Lakes

3—SHERMAN: Lights on the Lake Offers live music, kids' activities and fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Pecan Grove Amphitheater. 903/892-7230 Prairies and Lakes

3—WIMBERLEY: July Jubilee Celebrate with live music, arts-and-crafts booths, games, mini bull-riding and fireworks. VFW Post 6441, 401 Jacobs Well Road. 512/847-2201 Hill Country

3-4—WAXAHACHIE: Crape Myrtle Festival and Driving Trail Includes a concert and fireworks Wednesday and a downtown parade Thursday. Waxahachie Sports Complex. 972/937-2390 Prairies and Lakes

4—AMARILLO: Amarillo Globe-News Fireworks This display, choreographed to music on KGNC-FM, originates from Southwest Park. Begins about 9:45 p.m. 806/376-4488 Panhandle Plains

4—ARLINGTON: Fourth of July Parade Downtown. 817/330-9872 Prairies and Lakes

4—ATHENS: Fireworks at the Fishery Enjoy fishing starting at 5 p.m. and fireworks at dusk. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. 903/676-2277 Prairies and Lakes

4—AUSTIN: Fourth of July Fireworks and Symphony Includes patriotic music and fireworks over Lady Bird Lake. Auditorium Shores. Hill Country

4—BEAUMONT: Fourth of July Celebration Includes local musical groups, a concert by the Symphony of Southeast Texas and fireworks. Riverfront Park. 409/838-3435 Gulf Coast

4—CANADIAN: Fourth of July Parade and Celebration Downtown. 806/323-6234 Panhandle Plains

4—CANTON: Canton Fireworks Display Fireworks are set to music in a patriotic display at 9 p.m. First Monday Grounds. 877/462-7467 Prairies and Lakes

4—CASTROVILLE: Fourth of July Parade Houston Square. 830/538-3142 Hill Country

4—CEDAR PARK: Fourth of July Celebration Enjoy live music, dancing, a washer tournament, bingo, children's activities, swimming, free watermelon and fireworks. Milburn Park.  512/401-5500 Hill Country

4—CLEBURNE: Fourth of July Celebration Enjoy a fireworks display at dark over Lake Pat Cleburne.  817/645-2455 Prairies and Lakes

4—CLEVELAND: July Fourth Fireworks Starts at dusk. CISD Stadium. 281/592-2011 Piney Woods

4—COLLEGE STATION: I Love America Celebration Enjoy live entertainment, music, games and fireworks at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Historical characters pose for photos and answer questions about their careers. Live entertainment and games for children begin at 5 p.m. At 1000 George Bush Drive.  979/691-4014 Prairies and Lakes

4—COMANCHE: Family on the Fourth Celebration Offers one of the largest fireworks displays in the area, plus family entertainment and activities. Comanche High School Stadium. 325/356-3233 Prairies and Lakes

4—CUERO: Fourth of July Fireworks and Family Fun Carnival The city of Cuero presents a fireworks display at dusk. Also enjoy the Young Patriots Parade, carnival and contests from 9 a.m.–2 p.m., sponsored by Grace Episcopal Church. Cuero City Park.  361/275-3476 or 361/275-3423 Prairies and Lakes

4—DALHART: Independence Day Fireworks Display Rita Blanca Lake.  806/244-5646 Panhandle Plains

4—DENISON: Fourth of July Fireworks Show Enjoy music and children's activities before fireworks begin at dark. Munson Stadium. 903/465-2720 Prairies and Lakes

4—DENTON: Fourth of July Jubilee "Liberty Fun Run" Includes American Pride Cook-Off, Yankee Doodle Parade, free children's carnival, food, horseshoe tournament, and craft show and sale. Begins at 7 a.m. Quakertown Park. 940/349-7275 Prairies and Lakes

4—DENTON: Kiwanis Fireworks Show Features patriotic music and fireworks. Begins at 6:30 p.m. University of North Texas' Fouts Field. 940/387-6323 Prairies and Lakes

4—EASTLAND: Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebrate the nation's birth with a parade, patriotic music, arts and crafts, and games. At 100 W. Commerce St. Also enjoy fireworks at LaMancha Lake Ranch.  254/629-2332 Panhandle Plains

4—ELGIN: People's Patriotic Push, Pull, Peddle Parade Begins at 9 a.m. Downtown and at Veterans Memorial Park.  512/281-5724 Prairies and Lakes

4—FAIRFIELD: Fireworks Display KNES Radio provides music synchronized with the display. Moody Reunion Fairgrounds, 839 E. Commerce St.  903/389-5792 Prairies and Lakes

4—FREDERICKSBURG: Fourth of July Community Parade and Patriotic Program Includes entertainment and speakers downtown, as well as a concert and fireworks at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.  830/997-6523 Hill Country

4—FRISCO: Frisco Freedom Fest Hours are 4–10 p.m. Simpson Plaza.  Prairies and Lakes

4—GRAHAM: The Red, White and You Fourth of July Parade Enjoy patriotic fun and games, children's activities, vendors, a 7 a.m. Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast and 10 a.m. veterans' ceremony. Parade begins at noon. Downtown square.  940/549-3355 Panhandle Plains

4—GRANBURY: 1776 This musical offers a passionate and funny look into the lives of our forefathers and their political struggles in colonial America. Presented by Granbury Theatre Company. 817/579-0952 Prairies and Lakes

4—GRAND PRAIRIE: Lone Stars and Stripes Enjoy live horse racing starting at 5 p.m. and a fireworks show at 10 p.m. Lone Star Park.  972/237-7223 Prairies and Lakes

4—GRAPEVINE: Fireworks Extravaganza Watch fireworks, launched from the shores of Oak Grove Park, light up the sky. Begins at 9:30 p.m.  817/410-3185 Prairies and Lakes

4—GRAPEVINE: July 4 Train Rides At 10 a.m., take a ride on the Grapevine Fun Train, a shortened sample of the regular run. At 1 p.m., the train makes a round-trip visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards. Cotton Belt Depot. 817/410-3185 Prairies and Lakes

4—HOUSTON: Freedom Over Texas Houston's skyline is the backdrop for this patriotic celebration that includes educational exhibits, live entertainment, military artifacts and vehicles on display, children's activities and fireworks. Hours are 4–10 p.m. Eleanor Tinsley Park.  Gulf Coast

4—IRVING: Independence Day Celebration Includes a parade, fireworks and activities. Heritage District.  972/252-7476 Prairies and Lakes

4—JACKSONVILLE: Fireworks on Lake Jacksonville Includes a morning boat parade and evening fireworks at the lake.  903/586-0327 Piney Woods

4—KEMAH: Fourth of July Celebration Includes live music and a patriotic fireworks show over Galveston Bay at 9:30 p.m. Kemah Boardwalk.  877/285-3624 Gulf Coast

4—KERRVILLE: Kerrville's Fourth on the River Enjoy music by Robert Earl Keen and special guests along with the largest fireworks display in the Hill Country. Downtown. 830/792-3535 or 800/221-7958 Hill Country

4—KYLE: Independence Day Celebration Plum Creek Golf Course. 512/262-5555 Hill Country

4—LAKE JACKSON: Firecracker 4 Run This 4-mile run through Lake Jackson is USATF certified. Dunbar Park.  979/297-4533 Gulf Coast

4—LLANO: Rock'n River Fest Includes fireworks at dusk. Badu Park.  325/247-5354 Hill Country

4—LOCKHART: July Fourth Extravaganza Includes arts and crafts, food, games, a sky-diving display and fireworks. Lockhart City Park, 504 E. City Park Road.  512/398-2818 Prairies and Lakes

4—LUBBOCK: Fourth on Broadway Includes a 9 a.m. parade, street fair with seven live-music stages, a children's play area and vendors from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. From 5–11 p.m. in Mackenzie Park, enjoy a picnic and fireworks. Texas country music bands play from 7 p.m.–midnight in the courthouse plaza.  806/749-2929 Panhandle Plains

4—LUCKENBACH: Walt Wilkins Family Fourth of July Enjoy live music and activities from noon–6 p.m. Luckenbach, 412 Luckenbach Town Loop.  830/997-3224 Hill Country

4—MAGNOLIA: Fourth of July Celebration Fireworks begin at dusk. Unity Park. 281/356-2266 Piney Woods

4—MARBLE FALLS: July 4 Community Fireworks Celebration Includes concerts and fireworks over the lake. Lakeside Park.  830/613-0083 Hill Country

4—MCKINNEY: Red, White and BOOM Independence Day celebration includes a 9:30 a.m. parade on the downtown square, a car show, 7:30 p.m. concert and fireworks at 9:45 p.m. at the Craig Ranch soccer complex.  972/547-7480 Prairies and Lakes

4—MONAHANS: Freedom Fest Includes a parade, live music and entertainment, crafts, games, food and a fireworks display. Hill Park, Fifth Street at Allen Avenue.  432/943-2187 Big Bend Country

4—NACOGDOCHES: Freedom Fest This old-fashioned Independence Day celebration features live music, festival food, children's activities and a fireworks display. Downtown, 200 E. Main St. 888/653-3788 or 936/564-7351 Piney Woods

4—NEW BRAUNFELS: Fourth of July Patriotic Parade and Program Includes a downtown parade at 9 a.m. and fireworks at 8:45 p.m. in Landa Park.  830/629-1572 Hill Country

4—ODESSA: Independence Day Parade and Firecracker Fandango Parade starts at 10 a.m. at Odessa College and goes down Grant Street to Fourth Street. At the festival, enjoy live entertainment, games, rides and food from 6 p.m.–midnight. Fireworks begin at 10 p.m.  432/335-4682 Big Bend Country

4—PALACIOS: LaSalle Landing Re-enactment and Fireworks East Bay Park.  877/878-5386 Gulf Coast

4—ROCKPORT: Patriotic Boat Parade and Fireworks Display Decorated boats parade through Little Bay at noon, and fireworks light up the sky at dusk. Rockport Beach Park.  361/729-6445 or 800/242-0071 Gulf Coast

4—ROSENBERG: Family Fourth Celebration Patriotic family celebration includes horse-drawn wagon rides, a carnival, food, free concert and the largest fireworks display in Fort Bend County. Seabourne Creek Nature Park.  Gulf Coast

4—ROUND ROCK: Frontier Days Celebration Enjoy free watermelon, children's games, arts-and-crafts vendors and skydivers, all leading up to the fireworks display with patriotic music played by the Austin Symphonic Band. Old Settler's Park.  Hill Country

4—ROUND TOP: Fourth of July Parade and Celebration Parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Enjoy music, barbecue and children's activities at the Round Top Rifle Hall afterward. Round Top Square and 7100 F.M. 1457. 979/249-3117 or 281/788-3278 Prairies and Lakes

4—SAN ANGELO: Holiday Artillery Salutes Hourly artillery salutes mark the nation's 238th birthday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. 325/234-0316 or 325/657-4443 Panhandle Plains

4—SAN ANTONIO: July 4 Stars and Stripes over San Antonio Enjoy live entertainment, booths and food from 6–10 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Hemisfair Park.  South Texas Plains

4—SAN MARCOS: Summerfest Includes live music, a children's parade, fireworks and more along the San Marcos River. San Marcos Plaza Park.  512/393-5930 Hill Country

4—SEABROOK: Fourth of July Kids' Parade Children are invited to march in this parade on the park's trail. Then enjoy activities and refreshments. Meador Park. 281/291-5777 Gulf Coast

4—SHEPHERD: Fourth of July Celebration Liberty Avenue.  936/628-3890 Piney Woods

4—STONEWALL: All-American Chili Cook-Off Becker Vineyards  512/567-2835 Hill Country

4—TAYLOR: Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks Includes arts and crafts, old-fashioned games, contests, the rubber-duck race, vendors and fireworks at dusk. Murphy Park, 1600 Veterans Drive.  523/352-6364 Hill Country

4—TEMPLE: July 4 Family Fun Fest Offers live entertainment, arts and crafts, food, games and fireworks. Miller Park.  254/298-5590 Prairies and Lakes

4—TENAHA: Independence Day Celebration Includes a patriotic and gospel singing program and fireworks. Gates open at 7 p.m. Tenaha Tiger Stadium.  936/248-3841 Piney Woods

4—THE COLONY: Liberty by the Lake Enjoy live music, a parade, children's activities, vendors, a fun run/walk, salsa shootout and fireworks. Stewart Creek Park.  972/625-1106 Prairies and Lakes

4—THE WOODLANDS: Red, Hot and Blue Festival Features fireworks, hot dog and watermelon eating contests, live entertainment, children's activities and vendors from 6–10 p.m. Town Green Park and Waterway Square.  281/363-2447 Piney Woods

4—THE WOODLANDS: Star-Spangled Salute The Houston Symphony presents patriotic favorites. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.  281/363-3300 or 800/745-3000 Piney Woods

4—WACO: Brazos Nights Concert Enjoy music, food, drinks or a stroll along the river. Indian Spring Park. 254/750-8080 Prairies and Lakes

4—WEBSTER: Fourth of July Celebration Celebrate with a salute to veterans, bingo, live entertainment, children's activities, games, and free watermelon and snow cones. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Texas Avenue Park.  281/316-4108 Gulf Coast

4—WIMBERLEY: July Fourth Parade Begins at 10 a.m. at Lions Field, 601 F.M. 2325.  512/847-2201 Hill Country

4-6—CANADIAN: Fourth of July Rodeo and Dances Includes rodeo events, dancing and live music, featuring Casey Donahew on Thursday, Johnny Lee on Friday and Cooder Graw on Saturday. Jones Pavilion.  806/323-6234 Panhandle Plains

4-6—GRANBURY: Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration Features a parade Thursday, a decorated bike contest, games, arts and crafts, live entertainment, car shows, and fireworks at 9:45 p.m. Thursday. Downtown square.  817/573-1622 Prairies and Lakes

4-6—HICO: Billy the Kid Film Festival 114 N Pecan St.  254/796-2523 Prairies and Lakes

4-6—KINGSLAND: Aqua Boom On Friday, enjoy parades, water activities, vendors, live music and fireworks. The fun continues at the community center with steak, barbecue and chili cook-offs Friday and Saturday. Also Saturday, head to the community park for games, a poker run and remote aircraft show. A street dance takes place at American Bank.  325/388-6211 or 325/248-3623 Hill Country

4-6—TIMPSON: Frontier Days Includes live demos, folklore, entertainment, arts and crafts, a parade, pageant, carnival rides and more. Downtown and SoSo Park.  936/254-2603 Piney Woods

4-6—WIMBERLEY: VFW Rodeo CPRA-sanctioned rodeo also offers live entertainment, Friday night dance and fireworks. VFW Post 6441.  512/847-2201 or 512/847-6441 Hill Country

4-7—JACKSONVILLE: Muddin' for the Military River Run ATV Park.  337/540-6151 Piney Woods

4-7—SAN ANTONIO: Freedom Fest at Market Square Enjoy local entertainment, arts and crafts, children's activities and food. Hours are noon–8 p.m. Market Square. 210/207-8605 South Texas Plains

5-6—BRADY: July Jubilee Includes a street dance with music by the Wes Nixon Band, a parade, mud volleyball tournament and fireworks. Various locations.  325/597-3491 Hill Country

5-6—JEFFERSON: Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks The history of July 4 unfolds in narrated day tours. Evening trains enjoy a fireworks show. Historic Jefferson Railway.  903/665-6400 or 866/398-2038 Piney Woods

5-6—LEAKEY: July Jubilee and Centennial This celebration of U.S. independence and Real County's 100th birthday includes a parade, rodeo, street dance and vendors. Downtown.  830/232-5222 Hill Country

6—BASTROP: Patriotic Festival Enjoy a concert of patriotic music performed by the Austin Symphonic Band, games, activities, food and fireworks at dusk. Fisherman's Park, 1200 Willow St.  512/321-2419 Prairies and Lakes

6—FREDERICKSBURG: USO-Style Hangar Dance Enjoy 1940s-style Big Band music with swing-dancing lessons, a costume contest and refreshments. Hangar Hotel Pacific Showroom, 155 Airport Road.  830/997-9990 Hill Country

6—GALVESTON: The Texas Tenors: Let Freedom Sing! Begins at 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House.  800/821-1894 Gulf Coast

6—GLADEWATER: Boat Parade and Fireworks Boat parade begins at 8 p.m., with fireworks starting at dusk. 903/845-5501 Piney Woods

6—ROSCOE: Roscoe Independence Day Celebration Features a children's area, mud bog, live music, fireworks, and food and craft vendors. Downtown, 115 Cypress.  325/725-0756 Panhandle Plains

6—SAN BENITO: ResacaFest A day of live music, performances, a bicycle tour and race, car show, mini market, beer garden and family events culminates with a fireworks display. Hours are 2–10 p.m. W.H. Heavin Memorial Park.  Gulf Coast

In the February issue’s Taste department, Senior Editor Lori Moffatt writes about Central Market’s Cooking School, which offers classes in topics as diverse as Knife Skills 101 to Gluten-Free Baking. During Lori’s most recent class, a “pop-up” Lebanese dinner featuring London-based chef Anissa Helou, the class learned to make a variety of Lebanese appetizers, including a hummus made from butternut squash (instead of chick peas) and a white tabbouleh using cabbage instead of traditional parsley. Here are the adapted recipes.

The Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center at San Antonio’s Witte Museum employs more than exhibits and artifacts to portray the history and development of South Texas. To bring the 19th Century to life for visitors, the museum puts on plays and demonstrations throughout the week.

The spring 2013 schedule for interpretive presentations includes a daily Ropes and Brands demonstration that explores how cowboys and vaqueros used ropes and teaches visitors how to use a branding iron.

Other demonstrations shown periodically throughout the week are Chuckbox Cuisine—about cooking on the range—and Dressing for the Job—a lesson on cowboy protective work wear.

The plays on the Heritage Center’s spring schedule include Chili Queens, Longhorn Connection, Vaquero Y Cowboy and Tasura: A Comanche Remembers.

Chili Queens is about the popular street cooks that sold Tex-Mex in San Antonio’s plazas. Longhorn Connection is about a 19th-Century character named Lizzie who has a job cleaning the marrow out of horns for a furniture maker.

Vaquero y Cowboy is about two boys—José and Luke—and their journey to San Antonio to have their pictures made.

Details on the demonstration and play schedule are available on the center’s website.

The woodcarving legacy of Swiss woodcarver Peter Mansbendel (1883-1940) has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, thanks in part to the research of Texas woodcarver Doug Oliver, whose website,, provides details about Mansbendel’s contributions throughout Texas.

Senior Editor Lori Moffatt caught up with Oliver by phone from his home in Flower Mound to discuss his upcoming Mansbendel biography and the rewards of savvy sleuthing. 

“My initial discovery of Mansbendel was a fluke,” says Oliver. “I’m a professional woodcarver, and I have long been a fan of British woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, who worked from the 1650s to 1720s or so in England. His work was featured in Hampton Court Palace, Buckingham Palace, and in many estate homes in England.

“I have Swiss heritage, and one day I was messing around with Google and did a Google search for ‘Swiss woodcarvers in Texas.’ And out of the blue, up pops a catalog by Al Lowman (from the Texas State History Association) about a 1970s exhibition of Mansbendel’s work at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. I was intrigued to learn that this fellow Swiss woodcarver was an admirer of Grinling Gibbons, too.

“The catalog had some information about the homes that featured his work, but in most cases just listed the original owners’ names and a date. So I asked myself, how could I find out where they were? Maybe from someone who’d been in Texas a long time? I thought of Dallas realtor Ebby Halliday, and I wrote her a note. She told me that the Shepard King home I’d been looking for is now the five-star known as the Mansion on Turtle Creek.

“The Kings were big into cotton, and later oil, and they had traveled to the Petworth Estate in England, which had numerous works by Grinling Gibbons. And when they returned to Texas, they hired Peter Mansbendel to copy some Gibbons’ woodwork for their home. There are more than 1,100 pieces of wood carved by Mansbendel, including a Baroque mantel in the library and dining-room beams carved with angels, cherubs, and griffins. 

“So that was a big discovery. And then Ebby suggested I do some research with Preservation Dallas ( Because Mansbendel’s most active period in Texas was between 1915 and 1940, most of the Dallas houses were in the Highland Park and Lakewood neighborhoods.

“This sleuthing was totally new to me, and it was turning into a really fun thing. And then someone at Preservation Dallas said, ‘You know, I think he lived in Austin.’ And that really turned me on.

“From there, I found the owner of Mansbendel’s longtime home in Hyde Park. He is an architect, and he led me to other places that feature his work. I probably made 15 trips between Flower Mound and Austin, visiting all the places I could find. I eventually went to Houston, San Antonio, Bryan, Corsicana, and all over San Antonio. I met his grandson and granddaughter, who were able to fill in some holes, even though they were very young when Mansbendel died.

“At some point, architectural historian Peter Maxion became aware of my work through the Austin History Center, and he suggested I write a book. I already had the website going, so a book was a natural progression.

“I’m intrigued by the fact that Mansbendel worked with so many famous architects at a period when architectural art and decoration was coming into vogue in Texas, and also with the fact that he was such a Renaissance Man. He was a woodcarver, painter, and a singer in the German choral group known as Saengerrunde, as well as for St. David’s Episcopal Church. He was the Art Director and an actor for the Austin Little Theater, and also one of the original Barton Springs Sitter’s Club. Peter kept company with artists and architects such as Fortunat Weigel, Arthur Fehr, and Godfrey Flury, whom he met through the Saengerrunde. One of the things I admire most about Mansbendel was his ability to master so many styles.

“I’m finished with the first draft of the book, and I’m still maintaining the website, and adding new research. In fact, if anyone thinks they may have a Mansbendel piece in their home, they can send me a photo and I’ll check it out.”

Contact Doug Oliver through

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